A professional mariner from San Fernando, who was left stranded in Barbados for over two months due to the closure of this country’s borders because of the COVID-19 pandemic, is finally back in T&T.
Guardian Media understands that Marc Lorenzo Bodden, of Golconda, who filed a lawsuit against the Ministry of National Security and the Office of the Attorney General, last week, returned to Trinidad on Monday night along with several other nationals—UWI students and four national footballers—who were recently granted travel exemptions.
Sources said Bodden was taken to the Ministry of Health’s temporary facility at the University of the West Indies campus in Debe, where he will remain under mandatory quarantine for 14 days.
Bodden’s exemption came hours before High Court Judge Ronnie Boodoosingh granted him leave to pursue his judicial review case over National Security Minister Stuart Young’s previous refusals to grant him permission to re-enter T&T.
As Bodden has been allowed to return, the aspect of his lawsuit calling on Young to reconsider his previous refusals was rendered nugatory.
However, Bodden’s lawyers are expected to pursue other aspects of the case, in which they claim that his constitutional rights were breached by Young, who they accused of discriminating against him (Bodden) by previously granting exemptions to other similarly circumstanced persons. Bodden is seeking financial compensation for the alleged breaches.
According to Bodden’s lawyers, the 50-year-old father of six left Trinidad to go to Brazil to complete a four-day nautical training course on March 14.
Shortly after arriving at his destination, Bodden learned of the Government’s move to close the country’s borders to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Bodden attempted to change his flight but was unsuccessful. He visited this country’s embassy in Brazil and was advised to travel to Barbados via the United Kingdom, in order to have an opportunity to return.
When Bodden arrived in Barbados, he was required to undergo 14 days of mandatory quarantine and a COVID-19 test, which returned negative.
While there, Bodden and the company he was contracted to repeatedly wrote to Young for an exemption for him to return to Trinidad to meet his contractual obligations, which were set to begin on May 6.
In his legal filings, Bodden’s lawyers claimed that he has been forced to spend US$5,000 in accommodation and living expenses and rely on the charity of strangers while stranded.
They said that the situation decimated his finances as he is the sole breadwinner in his family and lost out on his contract when he was unable to return to Trinidad in May.
In his decision, Boodoosingh gave Bodden’s lawyers deadline to file and serve the constitutional aspects of the case. A date for a case management conference is expected to set once the filing is complete.
Bodden is being represented by Anand Ramlogan, SC, and Che Dindiyal.